Online recruitment is surging ahead, but is there a danger that it may discourage potential applicants? HR professionals had their say at a roundtable discussion. Nic Paton reports
Even the most Luddite of HR professionals cannot afford to ignore the rise and rise of online recruitment. From a standing start five years ago, the online recruitment market in the UK is now a multi-million pound industry attracting millions of jobseekers to a vast array of sites.
Only last month (August) jobs website GoJobsite claimed 82 per cent of jobseekers considered the internet to be the simplest way to source new job opportunities, while 84 per cent thought it the easiest way to apply for jobs and 55 per cent found it the best way to land a position.
And a survey of 9,000 people by online recruiter Workthing in May - part of the Guardian Media Group - found some 36 per cent of internet users - or an estimated 6.3 million people - had sought jobs online - a 50 per cent increase on last year.
Yet it's still early days. Online recruiter Totaljobs estimates online recruitment still only makes up about 5 per cent of the multi-billion pound recruitment market.
To find out, then, how HR professionals should best exploit this potentially lucrative market - and make sure they are not left behind - Personnel Today organised a roundtable debate on the issue. We invited senior HR practitioners from both the private and public sectors to discuss online recruitment - the benefits, the challenges and its future.
Does online recruitment bring real business benefits?
Even those who admitted to a fair degree of scepticism - such as Martin Tiplady, HR director at the Metropolitan Police - accept that online recruitment can produce real business benefits. He said he had been surprised by the quantity of internet job enquiries the Met had received.
"Last year, we recruited between 2,500 and 3,000 people from 60,000 enquiries and 25 per cent of those came through e-mail and the internet. We are now thinking we will not only want enquiries through it, but applications too," he said.
The challenge, argued Helen Williams, resourcing development manager at Safeway, is how to reduce spend on external websites and attract passive jobseekers. The supermarket chain has set up careers pages on its corporate website, which has been running fo